1) Advent Calendars: Sorry this one you'll have to add to the list for next year. Ours were never fancy. In fact they were the cheap boxes of chocolate. You start on December 1st and open a new flap each day until Christmas. This year Chase and I would say something we were thankful for before we opened a new chocolate flap. If you're like many of my talented girlfriends, you could get crafty and make your own or head over to Pottery Barn and pick up this awesome burlap sack calendar. You can fill each day's sack with a new surprise - one day could be a treat for the kids; the next day could be a bible verse; the next could be a craft project; the next could be to bake and deliver cookies to the neighbors. It's a fun way to get creative and have fun each day of the month.
2) Decorate Gingerbread houses: This is a fun tradition to start with close friends. It's even more fun if you make it into a friendly competition. Sadly, my husband always wins. Costco and Trader Joes usually always have some easy to assemble kits with all the fixings.
3) Drive around looking at lights: It's fun to get in your pajamas, stop off at Starbucks for a "holiday drink" and drive around looking at crazy Christmas light displays in different neighborhoods.
4) Pictures with Santa: When we were younger we'd stand in the long line at Nordstrom waiting for a very professional shot with Santa in our matching Christmas outfits. Where we live now, we bundle up and ride the Santa Train that brings you to Santa's freezing outdoor studio.
5) Game night on Christmas Eve: After church we head over to my aunts for dinner and games. Bingo is always a crowd favorite but every year she gets creative with new games. Our family's favorite - indoor putt-putt and the Reindeer Race.
6) Christmas Pajamas: When we come home from playing games, we all line up on the couch and my mom hands out Christmas pj's that are to be worn that night. Following the modeling show, we pop in a Christmas movie until we can't keep our eyes open.
7) No presents under the tree until Christmas morning: During the entire month of December there are no presents allowed under the tree. My mom will wait until everyone goes to bed on Christmas Eve and she'll bring out all the presents that she's had stored who knows where. I loved this tradition growing up because it made running into the living room on Christmas morning SO exciting!
8) Special Christmas morning breakfast: After opening all the presents, we sit around and stuff our faces with Panacacas, a German version of a Swedish pancake. A very nutritional breakfast with only butter and sugar sprinkled on top. I am proud to admit that I hold the record of 19 Panacacas - the most ever eaten in my family. :)